Best research tactics for any job interview

Job interviews can be the stuff of nightmares. Thinking about what question the interviewer will ask? Will they blind side you? How will you react?

Research skills are critical to proving that you are the perfect employee. The best interviewee would – in theory – be able to start work on the day of the interview. They would know about the organisation’s current challenges, the environment in which they operate, and the recent news coverage which is related to the organisation.

Very few employers want to hire someone who will have to take large amounts of paid time to learn before they can start their real work.

This blog post will describe how each of you should approach research for an organisation and how it will help you in any job interview.

Search current news:

Depending on the size of an organisation, many important stories will be readily available online in the news and on the organisation’s website and social media channels.

News about the company can be very helpful for answering general interview questions such as “What attracts you to our organisation?”.

Make a list of the 5 most relevant individual news stories to your position, from across various media outlets, and write down in your own words why they influenced your decision to apply and how you can work effectively for them under the circumstances.

Isolate the key information:

On the other hand, if you specify your department or the area of a company that you are applying for then you can avoid wasting time and direct your attention to the most vital information. Even a simple Google search with several keywords (e.g. “Company X Human Resources”) can allow you to obtain access to the specific information that your role will demand.

To make it even more straightforward you can take the specific roles and responsibilities mentioned in the job description to minimise your searches.

By isolating the key information you can establish the key challenges and goals for your department and even provide some of your own insights. This will help a great deal when you are asked about how you are qualified for the specific position in the organisation.

For example, here are some cases from my own experience to give you some idea of where you should researched key information:

  • For my Corporate Social Responsibility job application I located the “Corporate Social Responsibility report 2015 – 2016” as well as news reports on specific social schemes sponsored by the company.

  • For my digital media marketing job application, I examined the website to give positive insights on improving it’s internal structure and user friendliness.

Contact the right people:

If the information that you want to find out is not available online, then just contact the right person within the company.

Persistence is critical to good research, and making contact with the right people can be especially challenging.

In many large organisations there will be specific contact details for certain departments available online. However, even in a small organisation with an online presence you can find contact details for the whole organisation. If you use the general contact details then you can ask for a phone number or email address for someone who can provide more specific information. Even for a local organisation with no online presence, you can often find contact details using the Yellow Pages.

For example, when I went for a web editor position I wanted to find out what content management system they used, so I could provide more specific insights. After 20 minutes on hold and being switched between different departments I finally located a phone number. Then after calling I was switched through again and finally found someone who could tell me.

Persistence pays off!

*Thank you Alison Winkler for your feedback.

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